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Old 10-14-2007, 04:25 AM   #1
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Can't make eye contact :(

Hey there,

Remember that time in the move "What Women Want" when Mel Gibson hear Hellen Hunt get mad at herself for staring at his croch? Haha that's how I feel all the time! I have trouble making eye contact. I remember when it started, too. I was in my late teens when I was talking to a friend and had too look away for some reason. I don't have any secrets that I can think of. It's bad for both, guys, girls, strangers, family, dogs, cats haha.. joking.

Does anyone know any reason for this? I've assumed that everyone has their own reasons. But maybe it's simpler than that. When I'm drunk or take drugs (other than pot) it goes away and I can stare anyone down!

I wish I could make it go away. I feel that it makes my friends my friends think I'm gay and my girlfriends think I'm a perv.

I had one friend tell me that it's a sign of intelligence.. that makes me feel a little less strange... but not better.

It's time I licked this thing. It's taken a lot of my self confidence away. Does anybody know where I could learn more about how to deal with this?

Cheers!

TD

 
Old 10-14-2007, 05:37 AM   #2
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Practice, practice, and more practice. It will feel funny to you, but not to the people you are making eye contact with. It will get easier as you go along. Make a conscious effort, and it will become automatic. Good luck.

 
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:49 AM   #3
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

I'll try. I always feel like maybe it's obvious that I struggle with it so much.

Thanks for gettin back to me!

 
Old 10-14-2007, 12:16 PM   #4
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by turkey_dinner View Post
It's time I licked this thing. It's taken a lot of my self confidence away. Does anybody know where I could learn more about how to deal with this?
You nailed part of it right here. It's taken a lot of your self-confidence away. The way you feel about yourself is your problem. Eye contact is a tricky thing to deal with. A lot of time, we hope something we do embarrassing is something that someone else doesn't see. With eye contact, there is no doubt. Another person is looking directly at you at the exact moment you get stuck in your embarrassing behavior.

You need to find a way to make eye contact natural for you. The less natural it is, and the more you have to think about it, the more obsessed you will become with fixing it. Start with your own self-confidence. What's great about you? Spend some time thinking about that. Get your ego going. Build back the confidence you have lost by dwelling on the things that make you great and unique.

Your eye contact issues could easily be the way you feel about yourself coming to the surface. You need to address the underlying problem (if it truly exists) before you can fix the results of that problem.

Then, as the previous poster said, you have to practice it. Force yourself to make eye contact more often. Don't worry about staring. If make very little eye contact now, just working on increasing it will help, and you certainly will not be staring. If looking directly into the other person's eyes make you uncomfortable, pick a spot in the center of their face near their eyes that you can look at. Be careful not to star at their nose though. Some people feel comfortable looking at a speaking person's mouth when listening. That's never felt natural to me, but it might work for you.

All this is contradictory to what I said about making it feel natural and not obsessing. There is a hump you need to get over where you will need to do a lot of thinking while you learn and put these things to practice. There is no way around it. Find what makes you comfortable (or least uncomfortable). The more you practice the things that work for you, the more natural it will become.

Is there someone in your life who you feel comfortable talking about this with? You may be able to practice with that person. If you have a conversation with that person, and tell them about your discomfort, they may be willing to practice with you.

Good luck.

Last edited by surfnfreak; 10-14-2007 at 12:19 PM.

 
Old 10-15-2007, 06:31 PM   #5
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Thanks a lot

Well if all I can do is keep trying then that's what I'll contunue doing. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some magical cure.

 
Old 10-16-2007, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Turkey Dinner you are not alone. I have the same problem too. I found this post running a search about eye contact issues. Ive been looking for hints and tips to help me overcome this issue but I haven't had much success. It seems the problem has gotten worse over time. I also remember when it started in my late teens. The problem is not so much that I break eye contact but when I do I look at the crotch or the breasts of the person Im talking too.

I read a book on Body Language. Ive tried looking at another point on the persons face. Ive tried telling myself to wait for them to break eye contact, but still no luck. Ive talked with my wife about it too, thinking that getting it off my chest would help. Nothing has worked so far.

I find that other parts of interacting with people are not as troubling for me. I dont speak over people, I listen carefully and try and provide thoughtful remarks when I'm speaking to someone. Im never rude and I dont have any other body language issues.

It is definitely tied into my self confidence or my general feelings of comfort. When Im not at ease or not feeling good about myself the problem is much worse. The only person I dont have the issue with is my wife, I think because I always feel comfortable and at ease with myself around her.

Im beginning to worry now that it might start effecting my other relationships and my business which requires a bit of face to face time with clients.

Maybe I should try harder, but I feel like all the trying Ive done all these years has made it more of an issue and its more on my mind when I go to interact with someone. I refuse to let this issue plague me for the rest of my life and I know there has got to be some more proven steps than, just try harder. . .

Your comrade in eyes . . .

 
Old 10-17-2007, 02:22 AM   #7
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by eye_and_i View Post
Maybe I should try harder, but I feel like all the trying Ive done all these years has made it more of an issue and its more on my mind when I go to interact with someone. I refuse to let this issue plague me for the rest of my life and I know there has got to be some more proven steps than, just try harder. . .

Your comrade in eyes . . .
The way I overcame the problem over the years is to not force myself to LOOK at someone's eyes. Start with darting glances while the person is talking to you, and other darting glances while you yourself are talking. As long as some eye contact is taking place, it doesn't have to be an earnest gaze (which I, anyway find a bit confronting). The best help was an exercise that I came across in a therapy group which is to have a partner and look into their eyes for five minutes. It is worth doing (with someone you trust) and it is quite liberating. At the end of it you talk about your impressions and what was going through your mind at the time, especially any negative things like fear or intimidation. I found that doing that exercise over a couple of groups was enough to overcome my reluctance. After a few of those sessions, you know what is preventing you from feeling safe and comfortable doing it, and you can make eye contact with the best of them. Hope this helps, it did it for me. Sera

 
Old 10-17-2007, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Thank you Seraph, thats the best advice Ive found so far. I am going to try the exercise with my wife and I hope it helps. I especially like the idea of exploring what issues might be causing the break in eye contact in a relaxed environment with a trusted partner or friend where their is no fear of reprisal for the break in eye contact.

 
Old 10-17-2007, 03:59 PM   #9
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

I think the general thing to remember is that people find eye contact inherently attractive. Making eye contact projects confidence. I make a habit of employing it in situations at work where I am keen to impress my viewpoint on a colleague. I am less adept at using it in romantic situations but it definitely helps to practice in less intense scenarios.
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Old 10-17-2007, 04:08 PM   #10
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Wow, I must scare lots of people because I am an eye person who always looks into another's eyes no matter what the sex.

I always feel that I am not "connecting" with the other person if I don't look into their eyes. That's just me. It comes natural to me, always did.

Wonder how many people I scare?

Sunny

 
Old 10-18-2007, 05:53 AM   #11
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Wow!

Eye and I. Thank you for helping me understand that I'm not alone. The problem with this is that there doesn't seem to be a name for it so it's hard to research.

Thanks for talking to your wife about it and getting it off your chest, too. I've never spoken openly about it. It's too bad it didn't clear it for you or I'd be running around looking for people to talk to. You took one for the team there. I wonder what a mess we'd make speaking face to face? Hahaha.. Actually it's not unbareable for me but I'd really like to to go away.

I feel exactly the same as you in every area and have the same symptoms. Maybe we can learn from each other!?

I find that people I talk with deal with me in different ways. Some pick up on it right away by scratching their head as to say "hey over here, man" and some put their hands in the trouble areas to say "*** is wrong with you, man?"

How about you?

Last edited by CaptainCrunch; 10-18-2007 at 01:18 PM.

 
Old 10-18-2007, 06:00 AM   #12
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Oh, and Saraph.

I missed your post there. I think it's a great idea to have a couple starting contests for that exact reason in mind.

I can make eye contact and I think there's probably 100 levels of people effected. on a 1 - 100 I'd say I'm a 60. I've met some 30's and maybe even a 100. But I mostly meet 0's I want it to be GONE.

I'm very polite and have no problems communicating with people. I have a job where I need to be in direct contact with guests, I have lots of friends and an active life. It hasn't driven me insane but I'm very jealous of people that don't have any prob with it at all.

Last edited by CaptainCrunch; 10-18-2007 at 01:17 PM.

 
Old 10-19-2007, 11:58 AM   #13
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Captain Crunch

Yeah, I feel a lot more human now, its clearly more than an individual problem, if you and turkey dinner and i all suffer from nearly the same symptoms.

The problem I had when researching this issue online, a lot was geared towards autism which while it provides some insight is not really relevant. The other stuff I found was just about eye contact in general and nothing about breaking eye contact in inappropriate ways.

Boy I know what you mean about people covering up! Last night a friend and his girlfriend came for dinner. I have had particular issue with breaking eye contact inappropriately with my friend's girlfriend, and I was dreading the visit in that regard. But after reading your post yesterday, I bolstered my spirits and insisted to myself that I wouldnt let it dominate my thoughts.

I thought I was doing pretty well, and I followed Seraphs advice with fleeting glances being sure to look back at the playlist of music I was playing on our home theater pc or something else in the room. My friend was sitting right next to her though and I may have broken eye contact with him and look at her by accident, I dunno, but she started covering up at some point in the evening, wrapping a cardigan she had and folding her arms. But I wasnt going to let the past haunt me, I said this is a new time, and even if you judge me on how I acted before, I won't judge myself.

And so I stuck to the gameplan and try my best to not let the negative thoughts spiral. Well, by the end of the evening I had a few moments of sustained eye contact with her that felt ok and I didnt break them in an inappropriate way. It wasn't an A+, maybe a B or B- for the night as a whole, but I felt good that even if I might still have trouble controlling my eyes, I had gained a little bit of an upper hand on my thoughts, which is typically what pushes me from a 30 to a 80-90 on the scale you mentioned.

Last edited by eye_and_i; 10-19-2007 at 12:15 PM.

 
Old 10-19-2007, 12:08 PM   #14
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

I should also add that I haven't tried that exercise with my wife yet, but yesterday morning after reading your post I made a bold move . . .

I have an office manager who is a good friend, probably my best female friend, or my best friend at that. I had in the past had some really tough encounters where I felt I was breaking eye contact inappropriately and a few where those spiraling moments where it just got worse the more I though about it. ..

Well, after reading the post, I told her how excited I was that I found some people dealing with the same issues I had online

Her response was, what issues?

And I was faced with a choice between being comfortable and shallow or being open and possibly having my friend think Im a lech. . .well Ive got to be open, so I told her everything

Her response was, I never noticed that you did that with me. .

I wasnt sure and Im still not sure if she was just being nice as I was in an open and very fragile point, but Ive never known her to bs me or tell me a lie in the past.

She also mentioned that she never noticed it when I was interacting with clients.

This helped me realize how much of this could just be in my own head and the amount of beating myself up that I do when I feel the problem is happening. The thing is I want to give people the best attention whenever I interact, thats why eye contact is important to me and I always try hard to listen. It could be forcing it upon myself and then telling myself what a jerk I was really made the problem get worse.

But, after we talked and went on lunch break and were chatting about something else, it happened again, though it wasnt as bad.. . .

so 2 steps forward 1 step back is still 1 step forward!

Please share what you can about your day to day to dealing with this issue, a comrade in arms, errr eyes, is great healing .. . . .

 
Old 11-14-2007, 03:57 AM   #15
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Re: Can't make eye contact :(

Wow!

I think it's great that you're working on it with your friends. I was very happy to hear she didn't even notice.

You're giving me some serious hope here.

Not much has changed on my side... I just work at it in little bits.

Keep up the good work.

 
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